Extending a hand to those in need is the Burqueño thing to do

When the public sees news stories of asylum seekers arriving in the United States, they don’t always get the whole picture. The news often fails to cover a core aspect of this situation: the human beings arriving at our border looking for safety and a better future. As an immigrant to this country, I had to overcome many barriers to be where I am today. As a child, I was helpless watching my parents unable to communicate because of a language barrier and we all lived in fear of getting sick because we lacked access to proper health care. Now as an adult, our family feels despair as the president of this country goes on weekly tirades and calls our community criminals and animals.

Repairs at national parks remain as busy summer season approaches

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As summer approaches, adventurers are about to descend on America’s national parks, but Congress has yet to act on legislation that would address nearly half of the $12 billion in overdue maintenance. 

The “Restore Our Parks Act” was introduced in Congress with bipartisan support. Marcia Argust, project director with Pew Charitable Trusts, said there are more than 400 parks nationwide, and most of them need repairs – including 16 national park units in New Mexico with $121 million in overdue repairs. “In New Mexico, 2 million visitors are coming to the state each year to visit National Park Service units, and they’re spending over $100 million in local communities,” Argust said. “That’s generating over 1,700 jobs per year.” The Trump administration’s 2020 budget proposes cutting the National Park Service budget by $481 million, even while visitors in 2018 exceeded 300 million for the fourth consecutive year – the highest numbers since record keeping began in 1904.

Electric vehicles can benefit all New Mexicans

New Mexico is quickly rising as a clean energy leader. The state had the fastest-growing wind industry in the nation in 2017. The landmark Energy Transition Act signed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sets the stage for further economic growth in the clean energy sector and cements New Mexico as a national leader, while the Energy Efficiency Act increases investments in efficiency while boosting the economy through job creation. The story is familiar by now: New Mexicans love clean energy and want to see this industry keep growing to help clean our air and water and to create good-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. Here’s the less familiar story: Electric vehicles—which help support clean energy development, local job growth, lower utility costs, and also clean up our air—can help New Mexico rise even higher as a clean energy leader.

The Energy Transition Act is a big step forward

Climate change represents one of the greatest security and economic threats our country has ever seen. But our response to climate change can also become the greatest opportunity for economic growth in generations. New Mexico is well positioned to seize this opportunity. Our wind and solar resources are unrivaled, and by transitioning to a 100 percent carbon-free energy policy by 2045, we can become a national leader on clean energy, confront climate change, create new jobs, and attract private capital to our communities. That’s why I’m proud that Governor Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Legislature passed the Energy Transition Act.

Ethics commission rules should make sure the panel is independent

Last November, voters cast their aspirations for better government, but the Independent Ethics Commission they enshrined in the state’s constitution won’t be the silver bullet they hoped for in the ballot booth. It’s disappointing, since only 20 percent of citizens think state government is on the right track. It’s doubtful the ethics commission will move current perceptions. The reality is, getting upward movement in these kinds of polls will require leadership and a shift in the public’s mindset that the commission is truly independent. 

Ultimately, we think it will be even harder than that since most of us think our district’s officials do a fine job representing our public interests. It’s other district’s state representatives and senators, whom we probably haven’t met, that we need to closely watch, right?

Rural and indigenous communities will not be left behind

The Energy Transition Act, Senate Bill 489 (SB 489) now inches closer to the governor’s desk –increasing the opportunity for our state to become a clean energy leader. With this bold piece of legislation moving forward, there’s a growing opportunity to diversify New Mexico’s economy by investing to develop our clean energy industry. Most importantly, this represents a chance for every New Mexican family to be able to access the emerging clean, safe, and good paying jobs ensuring our children and communities can thrive. And all the while SB 489 has solidified the fact New Mexicans understand our move to a clean energy world is not a matter of why, rather a matter of when, there have been many questions of how we will ensure to not leave New Mexican communities behind. Knowing workers in rural and indigenous communities continue to have very few choices when it comes to job opportunities and could be left behind as clean energy jobs are created, preparing our workforce for the emerging clean energy economy has become one of our state’s topmost priorities.

Senator’s filibuster over Energy Transition Act a stunt

I watched the nearly four-hour filibuster from Senator Bill Sharer on the Energy Transition Act from my home in Farmington on Wednesday. The bill passed overwhelmingly, 32-9, with strong bipartisan support. This stunt by Senator Sharer actually provides a window into his behavior over the past year on this piece of legislation and his behavior on the pending closure of the San Juan Generating Station for the past several years. Whether you agree or disagree with the Energy Transition Act, one thing is clear: The looming closure of the San Juan Generating Station has been evident for a long time. Throughout all of last summer, there were deep discussions on this bill—at interim legislative hearings in Farmington, and through a process convened by the Speaker of the House with lawmakers and many key stakeholders.

We can’t go back

When I was 30, a mother of two daughters and the proud bearer of a long-worked-for college degree, I underwent a tubal ligation. My husband and I had the family we had planned and could afford. Less than two months later, I learned that I had become a statistic, the one woman in a thousand for whom a tubal ligation fails. The year was 1980. I had an abortion, relieved and enormously grateful that I could access and afford the medical care I needed.

Fix needed for a big loophole for oil & gas

New Mexico has a big legal loophole in dire need of a fix. Shale oil and gas production in the Permian Basin in southeastern New Mexico has catapulted the state to be one of the largest producers in the nation. Along with that rapid increase comes more pollution and a dramatic rise in spills of chemicals and waste. In fact, the total number of oil and gas related spills increased nearly 100 percent since 2008 and more than 500 percent since 2000. Despite this increase in violations by the oil and gas industry, fines for those infractions have plummeted to zero.

The Legislature should pass the Energy Transition Act

We have a unique opportunity to transform energy in New Mexico with the Energy Transition Act. Senate Bill 489 is bold, comprehensive legislation that will establish the state as a national leader in both renewable energy and address the causes of climate change, providing a pathway for a low-carbon energy transition away from coal and providing workforce training and transition assistance to affected communities. On top of accelerating New Mexico’s march to the front lines of climate-conscious governance, the ETA is a fair deal for ratepayers in the state. This is landmark legislation for its ambitious and achievable renewable and carbon-free targets; it also provides for a conscientious and reasonable transition away from the San Juan Generating Station that does not overburden New Mexicans and will actually save consumers money. Right now, PNM’s financing payments on the coal plant are passed onto ratepayers.